BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in February 2012We've left it here for reference.More information

26 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site Print this page 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Picked Up

by ejh239

You are browsing in:

Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
ejh239
People in story: 
WG Poynor (Bill)
Location of story: 
HMS Sikh, Mediterranean
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
A6028607
Contributed on: 
05 October 2005

Picked Up

Eventually, large invasion barges could be seen pushing off from the shore to pick us up. It was well into the late morning now and I reckon we must have been in the water about three hours. When one of the barges reached us, we had to climb up a short metal ladder on the side of the craft. When it came to my turn, I climbed up and stepped onto the deck. The German sailor there had a dagger in his hand, only to cut the life belts clear! We were directed along a short passageway. When we started walking, there was another crewmember there, who gave us all a pat on the back. A bit further along, there was another chap with a bottle of stuff. It looked like Creme de Menthe and tasted like it. He gave us all a tot of this, obviously to take away the chill. After a few steps we were on the top deck of the craft. Another German told us to take off our overalls and lay them out in the sun to dry them. We were just sitting on the open deck there. They came along and gave us blankets and cigarettes and a hot coffee drink. We were feeling a lot better after this. I remember looking around on the water, seeing the English and Egyptian currency notes torn up. We'd had instructions to do this before we left the ship because the Germans would have used those for their own fifth column around Egypt and Israel.

Eventually, we reached the beach and they dropped the front of the craft down. We walked over the beach and were directed to a building very near, which was Tobruk House. One of the first chaps I was there was Cecil. We just looked and then pointed at each other and said almost in unison: "I thought you'd copped it when that shell landed between us". I'm not ashamed to say we hugged each other. Incidentally, he is still alive today.

We were all lined up inside there for interrogation. When it came to my turn, I went forward. This Italian army officer spoke very good English of course, asked my name and I said "William Poynor". He looked down his typewritten list and asked "William George Poynor?". I said, "Yes", which shows just how much they knew what was going on.

They searched me then. I had just the money belt and the overalls and the crucifix. He took it out and looked at it, looked at me and gave me that back. He kept the cap badge. I suppose he couldn't understand why I'd taken that; I must have had some strange reason for that. This time, I asked him, "Would you mind if I asked you a question". He said "No", so I said, "About the battle of Sirte, outside the Gulf" and I mentioned the date. .. "Well, you want to remember," he said, "that our fleet hadn't been out for a long time. The crew got seasick and couldn't man the guns properly and were a danger to the whole fleet. In order to avoid any unnecessary damage, they had returned to port." So I thought, "Well, thank God for the bad weather".

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy